Pride+Ally Club at ITW David Speer Academy Creates A Safe Space for ALL

In the background of this blog graphic are two photos. The right photo shows a group of ITW David Speer Academy students in front of a gallery walk of LGBTQ+ icons. The left photo shows two staff members and a student holding Pride flags and queer books. On top of the photos is a transparent blue background. On top of that layer, in the bottom left corner, is blue text on a yellow box that reads "Pride and Ally Club at Speer Creates a Safe Space for All". The Noble Schools logo is in the bottom right corner.
Published On: June 26th, 2023Categories: 2023, Campus Life, ITW David Speer Academy, Pride Month, Staff, Students

“A student confided with me that they were gay but were afraid to come out for fear that their parents wouldn’t accept them. They trusted me because they knew I was one of the leaders of the Pride+Ally club and felt safe to share their story with me.”

This is what Mr. Sanabria, a special education facilitator and performing arts teacher at ITW David Speer Academy, said was one of the reasons why he leads the Pride+Ally Club at Speer.


Two teachers pose in front of a black push pin board decorated with Pride flags. On the left is Mr. Sanabria, an older Latine man with light brown skin and short gray hair. He is wearing a long-sleeve black button-up and gray pants. On the right is Ms. Huerta, a young Latine women with light brown skin and long dark brown straight hair. She is wearing a white jacket over a black shirt and black pants. These two teachers run the Pride and Ally Club at ITW David Speer Academy in Chicago, IL.


Mr. Sanabria (left) and Ms. Huerta (right) lead the Pride+Ally Club at ITW David Speer Academy


Pride+Ally club was founded in 2018 and is currently run by both Mr. Sanabria and Ms. Huerta, one of Speer’s social workers. They came together after noticing an increase in students sharing their stories with them about exploring their identity. They decided to run the Pride+Ally Club and thought that it would be great to have a social worker be a part of the club to help provide extra social and emotional support. The club’s mission is to provide a safe and welcoming space, discuss topics relating to gender identity and expression, create greater awareness about issues of the LGBTQ community, and create a school where all students feel welcome.

As one of the social workers at Speer, Ms. Huerta believes that it’s imperative to provide safe spaces that are open to all students. Building trust with students is a key component to making all feel welcomed and treated with respect, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or identity.

“I feel like, before, there weren’t that many safe spaces in schools and it’s more talked about now,” Ms. Huerta said, “It’s important for students to have that exposure and identify who they are. When adults today were younger, they didn’t have that space at school, but now kids do. It’s important to teach students about their rights.”

We spoke to 3 student members of the club about their experiences and asked them some questions that we feel other students unfamiliar with the club might have about attending the club meetings:

Is the club only for students in the LGBTQIA+ community?

A student, who asked not to be named, spoke on their experience in the club.

“A lot of people feel like they have to be a part of the community to attend but we try to inform them about how much of a safe space it is for everyone,” they said.

What can students expect attending your club? What does a meeting look like?

Another student described the meetings as fun and informative:

“We have great leaders that make the club interesting by creating categories every week! Categories range from fun activities such as t-shirt making, arts & crafts, movie night, and karaoke to educational lessons and discussions about historical figures or movements that have impacted the LGBTQIA+ community, and highlighting monumental days like Transgender Day of Visibility.”

Posters for the events that the Speer Pride+Ally Club held this school year.

What do you like most about the club?

Educational content is the biggest take away for all students in the Pride+Ally club. Students are always eager to educate themselves so they can continue to advocate and educate others around them.

“Coming to this club helps me to educate myself so that I can help educate other people. Everyone should be a little more understanding and try to educate themselves. We need to be aware of the things we say and how it affects people around us,” One of the club members said.

Luca, a student at ITW David Speer Academy, stands in front of a black pushpin board that is decorated with Pride flags and signs about mental health and coping skills. Above their head is a sign that says "This Year I Will...". Luca is a young Latine student with light brown skin and long curly dark brown hair. In this photo, they are wearing a gray Speer t-shirt and black pants and holding a small pansexual flag (colors of the flag are blue, yellow, and pink).


Luca, a member of the Pride+Ally Club at Speer, holds a pansexual flag and smiles.

Luca, pictured above, said that this club is their safe space:

“My family isn’t accepting so I get my support from school and the club. I feel happy and comfortable coming to the club. It is my biggest joy because people here can relate to my experiences, I can ask deep questions, be open and honest, and most importantly, I feel safe to express myself.”

Would you recommend this school to other students who are a part of the LGBTQIA+ community?

All club members stated that they would recommend Speer to their friends. No school is perfect and there are areas of improvement, but overall teachers are accepting and inclusive, they said.

“I would recommend it because there are a lot of people who are accepting and I love how inclusive the school is during different months with decorations,” Luca said, “Since I identify as gender fluid, my friends check in with me about my pronouns for the day. My teachers always correct my peers about my name and pronouns. It makes me feel seen and respected.”


Members of the Pride+Ally club wish to see more promotion of the club around the school, informing students that this club is a safe space and all students are welcome to join. With advisory being longer next year, they are hoping that advisors can help promote the club. They want to also make more flyers and social media posts to get the word out. They also hope to create and host a Club & Enrichment Fair at the beginning of the year with booths for each club and sports team to encourage students to sign up and be engaged in the Speer community.

“My hope is that we can host more events all year round. I would like to see Speer host our own Pride Parade one day, as well as, other queer events that educate and uplift our growing community of LGBTQIA+ students and allies,” Mr. Sanabria said

Four students at ITW David Speer Academy work together to put up decorations for Pride Month. One student is standing on a chair and taping up the plus sign in LGBTQ+ on the wall over the top of many photos of famous queer people. The other three students are looking up at them.
Three students at ITW David Speer Academy pose in front of the finished LGBTQ+ Icons wall decoration. The student standing on the left is a young Black student with short dark brown hair and they are wearing a graphic t-shirt and black pants. To their right, sitting on the ground, is another young Black student with a long sleeved Speer sweatshirt and black pants on. The student standing on the right is a young Latine person with a gray Speer t-shirt and black pants. They are throwing up a peace sign.

Club members put up a gallery walk of famous queer people on the school walls for Pride Month.

The Pride+Ally club worked hard the last couple weeks of schools to decorate for Pride Month, creating a gallery walk of queer icons for students to observe in the hallways. The gallery walk highlights a diverse group of icons within the queer community and shows students that representation matters! Students deserve to see themselves reflected in the gallery walk and feel seen in the halls of Speer.

“I know my school supports the LGBTQ+ community, but I wish they would be more loud about it,” said one Pride+Ally club member, “I think what we are doing is a good start, but I know we can be better.”

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